Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The Vatican’s Sis­tine Chapel Choir is em­bark­ing on its first US tour in 30 years, hop­ing to show au­di­ences in New York, Washington and Detroit that it has aban­doned the habits that earned it a rep­u­ta­tion as the “Sis­tine Scream­ers.” The Pon­tif­i­cal Mu­si­cal Chapel Sistina, col­lo­qui­ally known as the “Pope’s Choir,” bills it­self as the world’s old­est choir, part of the tra­di­tion of litur­gi­cal choirs that have sung for pon­tiffs since the first cen­turies of the Ro­man Catholic Church..

To­day, the group of 20 adults and 30 boys per­forms reg­u­larly in the Sis­tine Chapel be­low Michelan­gelo’s mas­ter­pieces, at Masses the pope cel­e­brates in St Peter’s Basil­ica and for in­ter­na­tional con­cert ap­pear­ances. Hear­ing the singers’ dul­cet tones to­day, it’s hard to imag­ine they earned the nick­name the “Sis­tine Scream­ers” a few years back for their habit of belt­ing out their num­bers op­er­at­i­cally, re­ly­ing on vol­ume in­stead of tech­nique.

“Truly, they were sing­ing in a man­ner that had no re­la­tion to the old mu­sic,” choir mas­ter Mon­signor Mas­simo Palombella said. To re­turn the choir to its early glory in the 16th cen­tury, when the group at­tracted the best singers in Europe, Palombella did ex­ten­sive re­search. He sifted through the Vatican archives, study­ing mu­sic manuscripts and an­a­lyz­ing the hand­writ­ing of Re­nais­sance com­posers.

These days, the choir once again is draw­ing ta­lent. Its cur­rent mem­bers in­clude singers from Poland, Bri­tain, Brazil and Ar­gentina. Diegogas­ton Zame­diom 40, says be­ing the first Ar­gen­tine singer in the choir of the first Ar­gen­tine pope is the “max­i­mum of the max­i­mum.” Palombella, who was named choir mas­ter in 2010 and was re­cently re­con­firmed, hopes the con­certs in the US will ef­fec­tively “com­mu­ni­cate the im­age of God and spir­i­tu­al­ity that this mu­sic brings with it.” En­rico Torre, a 27year-old alto, said he is look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing New York so he can catch a Broad­way mu­si­cal. — AP

In this pic­ture Mae­stro Mas­simo Palombella poses for photos with the piano that used to be­long to Car­di­nal Joseph Ratzinger and that he do­nated to the Sis­tine Chapel choir when he was elected Pope Bene­dict XVI, af­ter an in­ter­view with the As­so­ci­ated Press in Rome. — AP

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